One in three people suffer from hypertension, defined by high blood pressure levels over a prolonged period of time, causing the heart to work harder to pump blood throughout the body. Since so many people experience this condition, it’s worth taking a look at how cannabis affects it.
While doctors caution against smoking in general, whether it’s cigarettes or cannabis, studies indicate that smoking weed increases blood pressure levels by a small amount, which immediately drops after a person settles into being high.
One study from Harvard Medical School found that smoking weed increases risk of heart attack fivefold within the first hour of smoking, with the caveat that that risk is also compounded by other actors like poor diet or obesity. According to the National Institute of Health, “THC inhalation evokes a greater and longer-lasting decrease of arterial blood pressure in hypertensive as compared to normotensive individuals.”
If hypertension goes untreated, it can result in a variety of cardiovascular issues, such as heart attack, heart failure, and stroke. However, cannabis does not seem to increase these risks. Rather, regular consumption of cannabis in some cases has been found to help lower blood pressure.
For some patients, developing a tolerance to cannabis could correlate with lower blood pressure. Of course, it’s important to consider how the different cannabinoids, or chemical compounds in cannabis, play a role in this. TCH, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, may for some people increase anxiety or paranoia, causing panic attacks and hence higher blood pressure within a more immediate time frame. CBD is often recommended as an antidote to anxiety attacks caused by THC, which may shed some light on CBD’s own effect on blood pressure. In some cases, CBD has appeared to lower systolic blood pressure in subjects who were both resting and stressed.
In general, you’ll have an easier and more effective time regulating your blood pressure levels through diet, exercise, and lifestyle, rather than the amount of weed you smoke. If cannabis helps you relax, it may very well be good for your hypertension over longer periods of time. However, if it makes you anxious, you may be better off without it, or sticking to only high CBD strains, so as not to put your mind and body through the stress of anxiety.